While everyone is talking about the latest Google Penguin and Panda updates, paid link penalties, and Google+ Local, Bing has been making some major changes to their search platform. Here are some of the most interesting changes to Bing search as well as some new features to help you increase your visibility in search and learn more about your website on Bing.
While Google may be pretty smart in creating their own social networking site to plug in to their search engine, Bing simply partnered with the largest one – Facebook. When you visit Bing, use the Sign In dropdown at the top to connect your Facebook to Bing to see how social their search engine really is.
But before we log in, let’s look at the difference between using Bing when not logged in to Facebook vs. being logged in.
Bing Search Results when Logged Out
Even when you’re not logged in to Facebook, Bing still incorporates some social into their search. Take these results for search engines.
You can see beginning of standard search results. Ironically, Google doesn’t even make the first page. To the right side of the search results, you can see related searches as well as icons to sign in to Facebook, rewards (which we will discuss shortly), and search preferences. Beneath these icons are faces from Twitter of popular Twitter users who frequently mention search engines in their tweets. Hovering over their faces will show you each person’s name, a link to their Twitter, and their latest tweets about search engines. Clicking on the link to their name will take you to Bing’s search results for that person.
Bing Search Results when Logged In
When logged in to Facebook, the main search results may stay the same, but the social sidebar to the right changes.
When you expand the social sidebar, you will still see the Twitter recommendations of people who tweet about the topic you searched. You will also see status updates and images from friends that include the keyword you searched. You can also “Ask Your Friends” about the topic you are searching for in the same sidebar panel.
How Bing Entices People to Use Them
So aside from connecting into the average social media user’s network of choice, what other ways does Bing use to lure people into using their search engine? They offer rewards points for using it!
People who use Bing’s search engine can sign up for Bing Rewards using their Windows Live ID. They can then earn points for using Bing to perform searches, asking friends about search topics, referring friends to join Bing Rewards, and much more. Rewards points can be redeemed from companies like Starbucks, Groupon, Amazon, Xbox, and others.
Why should marketers know about this? Simple. In the online marketing world, Google is the standard. But Bing is targeting more and more real world searchers, so if your website isn’t ranking in Bing, you need to make sure it does so more people can find it!
Account Preferences and Search History
If you want to see your account information, search preferences, and search history for Bing, visit your account page. I don’t use Bing very much, so my search history only goes back to November 2011.
So here is one area where marketers can take action. Bing offers Linked Pages.
It’s similar to Google+ where you claim websites by linking them to your Google+ profile, except in this case, you will be claiming pages that you feel best represent you in search results themselves. That way, when someone searches for you, the will see the pages you want them to see.
To claim pages and link them to yourself, click the Get Started button on Linked Pages. Then click the Link to Me button next to the search results you want linked to your name in Facebook search. Note that when you claim pages linked to yourself, Bing will update it on your Facebook Timeline.
You can claim anything that comes up in search results, from your blogs, author pages on websites you contribute to, social profile links (including your Google+ profile), and anything else that comes up in Google search results. The final product when someone views your linked pages should look like this.
When you are claiming pages, the ones that are claimed most recently will end up at the top of your list. Hence, you will want to claim the most important ones last so they will be at the top of your linked pages.
Of course, one of the downsides to linked pages is that your friends on Facebook can link pages to you. This means you will want to keep an eye out on your linked pages and unlink anything that you don’t want under your profile using the Unlink Me button.
Last, but not least, on the latest Bing changes are Bing’s Webmaster Tools. Bing has vamped up their Webmaster Tools to include some important data for marketers looking to learn more about their website. You can find the most useful data in the following places.
Under Reports & Data, you can view your average Page Traffic report. This shows your website’s most popular pages and related search data.
You can click the View link under Search Keywords to see specific keywords which lead to clicks for these particular pages.
If you just want to see keywords that lead to impressions and clicks for your website, take a look at the Search Keywords report under Reports & Data.
You can see what pages are returned in search results for each keyword by clicking on the View link next to it.
In the SEO Reports under Reports & Data, you can find out if your website’s on-site search optimization needs any work.
By clicking on the specific issue, you can read more about how to resolve it as well as see which pages need work. This can help you learn more about what Bing finds important when it comes to on-site SEO.
Want to know how many links Bing identifies for your website? Check out the Inbound Links report under Reports & Data.
You can click on an individual page on your website to see inbound links to that page and export them to a CSV file for further investigation. Bing Webmaster Tools also shows you the anchor text for each link.
Under the Diagnostic Tools section, you can find a few nice tools (currently in Beta) that can help you with your search engine marketing including Bing’s Keyword Research Tool and Link Explorer. They’re not as complex as Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool or Open Site Explorer, but they will give you some basic information you can use for your SEO campaign. There is also a great tool called SEO Analyser. I couldn’t get it to work at the time of writing this post (joys of tools in Beta), but this video should help you get to know more about it.
And some images from the Bing announcement:
Do you use Bing search or Bing’s Webmaster Tools in your marketing strategy?